STEPHEN DAVIS: 12 cities sue Los Angeles County over "zero bail" policy

Los Angeles County enacted a zero bail policy for most criminals arrested on nonviolent charges, prompting 12 cities to file a lawsuit in response.

The county temporarily abolished cash bail during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce the number of individuals in detention centers; however, in July, the Los Angeles County Superior Court ordered the county to reinstate the zero-bail policy, citing “dismal” pre-trial custody conditions.

Under the new zero bail policy known as the Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols, which went into effect on Sunday, October 1, assault, domestic battery, stalking, and violation of a protective order will still require cash bail, and human trafficking, battery against a peace officer, and sexual contact with a minor will trigger a judicial review.

“Individuals arrested for most offenses will either be cited and released at the site of their arrest, or booked and released at the law enforcement office with orders to appear in court for arraignment on a set date,” Just the News reported.

“Any determination of an arrestee’s status after arrest but before being charged should be based on an individualized determination of risk and likelihood to return to court,” L.A. County Presiding Judge Samantha Jessner said. “A low-risk arrestee should not be held in jail simply because they cannot post the necessary funds to be released pending arraignment.” 

Law enforcement officials have expressed their concern regarding this new policy, and have told lawmakers that it will create a greater strain on already-overwhelmed systems in place that do not have the infrastructure to track citations across each enforcing arm in real-time.

“You can get arrested in Pomona for a felony, you’re caught and released, cited out, and get arrested in Pacoima, and you’d be out again, because there’s no method of knowing who has been cited where,” former Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villaneuva told The Center Square.

12 cities in Los Angeles County filed a lawsuit on Friday in an attempt to block the zero-bail policy, including Arcadia, Artesia, Covina, Downey, Glendora, Industry, Lakewood, La Verne, Palmdale, Santa Fe Springs, Vernon, and Whittier.

“There is and has been grave public concern regarding public safety in light of reduced enforcement and criminal consequences for various categories of `low-level’ offenses that, despite the nomenclature, have profound and significant impacts on the day-to-day life of whole communities of plaintiff cities and others within the county,” the cities reportedly wrote in the lawsuit.

California’s major cities have become hotbeds for violent crime, organized retail theft, and increased drug use. Proposition 47, which reclassified felony theft offenses as misdemeanors if the merchandise stolen equated to $950 or less, has been criticized for incentivizing the newly popularized smash-and-grab trend.


“These are places where bail reform laws, criminal justice reforms have taken the inside of a jail cell out of the equation,” CNN’s John Miller explained. “This is actually their job, they go out and steal every day … they know getting put in jail is not in the equation any longer because of the laws that say no bail offense and DA’s policies — they don’t want people in custody for what they call ‘nonviolent’ crimes.”

Several name-brand stores and national chains have fled cities that have enacted criminal justice reform or “soft on crime” policies after losing millions in revenue due to organized retail theft and vandalism.

Jeff Reisig, a California District Attorney, said that the Los Angeles County Superior Court “ignored the only thorough comparative study in CA on Zero Bail and its impact on statewide crime,” and that his analysis found that zero-bail policies would increase crime by 163% and violent crime in the state by 200%.

This piece first appeared at TPUSA.

Image: Title: LA Zero Bail


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